Updated: Feb 17
Miles Smith Dymond was born in Fredericton, NB, on 25 March 1882. He was working as a stone cutter in Woodstock, NB, when he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) , in Valcartier, Quebec on 23 September 1914. He was an active militia member of the 1st (Brighton) Field Company of the Canadian Engineers. It is very likely that most of the militia soldiers of 1st Field Company were in Valcartier in early September waiting for the government of Canada to figure out how it would raise and organize the CEF. Myles was amongst one of the first Canadians to volunteer for CEF service.
Sapper Dymond went to war leaving behind his pregnant wife Ada Ray and his 1-year old son Myles Smith Dymond, Jr, his 4-year-old daughter Inez and six year old daughter Thea. . Myles, and his unit, were part of the 1st Canadian Contingent that sailed for England on 4 October 1914. They arrived in England 16 days later and were sent to Salisbury Plains for more training.
Sapper Dymond was posted to 17th Field Company that was held at divisional level (1st Canadian Divisional Engineers) to be employed where the greatest need was required. As a stone cutter/mason it is very likely he was employed on repairing damaged bridge abutments or constructing new abutments. Strong abutments were required so that heavy class bridges could be placed over water obstacles so that heavy artillery and transport could move closer to the front. Stonecutters/masons were also involved in repairing and/or constructing wells to ensure water supply for the division.
Myles arrived in France on 18 March 1915. His baptism of fire would be at the desperate battle of 2nd Ypres in Belgium. Starting on 22 April the Canadian Contingent was the only formation available to hold a gap left by the French North African units that bolted in panic during the first gas attack of the western front – leaving a 3 kilometer gap in the trenches. The Canadians held for 3 days until relieved by British formations. That horrific battle took the lives of 2,000 Canadians. Shortly after the battle Sapper Dymond got news that Ada had given birth to a daughter on 5 April. That little girl was christened Ypres Francine as a testament to the service of her father in that terrible battle.
In July 1917 Myles, having survived the battles in the Somme Valley and the battle of Vimy Ridge, was posted to 3rd Field Company, CE, 1st Canadian Divisional Engineers. After taking part in the battle of Hill 70 his unit moved north to enter into the ongoing slaughter which became known as the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium. His work on bridge sites was hazardous as those work sites were easy targets for German long-range artillery and German bombers. On at least 3 occasions Sapper Myles Dymond was buried as a result of very close artillery strikes. Nonetheless, he did survive but the harsh conditions of rain, flooding, mud and foul weather were taking a toll on the 36-year-old father of three. On 19 February 1918 Myles was evacuated back to England and invalided home to Canada a week later due to poor health.
Back in Saint John, NB, after some rest and recuperation Sapper Dymond was medically assessed for future service. It was noted that he had suffered rheumatic fever in late 1916 and that he had suffered a slight shrapnel wound to his head. He was also having respiratory problems when doing heavy labour. The medical officer declared that Sapper Dymond had a 35% disability and should be discharged as no longer fit for service. He was posted to the newly formed 7th Battalion of the Canadian Garrison Regiment for administrative purposes and was finally discharged on 21 December.
Myles and Ada would have two more children – Ada A born in 1919 and James S born in 1922.
Myles Smith Dymond died on 22 September 1933 of chronic endocarditis. Prior to his death someone made a cushion cover displaying Myles service during the Great War which is now in the possession of his granddaughter Roberta Norton.